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Essay Exploring How Thoreau's Philosophies Are Relevant In Modern Day America.

859 words - 3 pages

Relevancy can be defined as having legitimacy or importance in relation with something. Taking into consideration Thoreau and his opus, the question becomes whether or not his concepts have validity when applied to today's culture. We are surrounded by a culture obsessed with advancements. Most of all, our society revolves around the constant acquisition of material wealth. The core of Thoreau's message is to reject the endless pursuit of possessions and money, for the more simplistic journey of discovering yourself and the world around you. Thoreau's theories are undoubtedly relevant in relation to society today.In Walden, Thoreau reveals the true nature of economy, an endless quest for more than what is necessary to live. He argues that excess possessions not only require excess labor to purchase them but in fact oppress people. This directly relates to our culture. Everyone devotes their life and work to the acquisition of material goods. The mainstream of society buys into the idea that a person's worth is defined by how much they own. People believe they need to own things in order to be happy, or even socially acceptable. Thoreau's Walden experiment was intended to show Americans, who "labor under a mistake"(Thoreau), the truth about life, work, and worth. He points out that because people need to own things, they are forced to devote all their time to work, at the price of their inner freedom. For example, Thoreau notes that people are chained to their houses just as much as prisoners are chained in jails. Ironically, those who pursue more possessions actually have less than he does, since he owns his house outright, while theirs are technically held by mortgage companies. The same holds true today; how many people do you know that own their homes or cars outright? One can hardly think of such an individual.Thoreau would love to see individuals today supporting themselves with his four basic necessities of life: "food, shelter, clothing, and fuel"(Thoreau). Sadly, Americans are obsessed with "work more at [this] century's end then its beginning"(Quigley). Society today places the "meaning in life in terms of work"(Quigley). Rather than leisure as being the goal of progress, "work becomes an end in itself"(Quigley). Material possessions have been so commercialized in today's culture that people are no longer finding worth and meaning within themselves, but rather, with the things they own.Thoreau believed that any attempt at luxury would only serve to interfere with an individual's improvement. He believed a life of minimized needs was a sure path to contentment and self-discovery. In Walden,...

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